Saturday, July 29, 2017

William Oldys: "On a Fly Drinking Out of His Cup"

On a Fly Drinking Out of his Cup


Busy, curious, thirsty fly!
Drink with me and drink as I:
Freely welcome to my cup,
Couldst thou sip and sip it up:
Make the most of life you may,
Life is short and wears away.

Both alike are mine and thine
Hastening quick to their decline:
Thine's a summer, mine's no more,
Though repeated to threescore.
Threescore summers, when they're gone,
Will appear as short as one!

William Oldys --
(1696--1761)
from A Poem a Day
Eds. Karin McCosker and Nicholas Albery 



Carpe diem is a very common theme, but I was struck by this one for some reason.

29 comments:

  1. Indeed! But there is also poignant melancholy about aging and what awaits. Flies, of course, often feast on carrion and worse. The ironies are notable. Of course, I'm reminded of Emily Dickinson's ode to the blue buzzing fly. Thanks for introducing me to a poem with which I was unfamiliar.

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    1. R.T.--he doesn't seem to mention aging and melancholy, etc. He seems more concerned about time's winged chariot that he always hears.

      Yes, Dickinson's famous fly came to mind also.

      I guess, from a geological POV, one summer and three score aren't even noticeable or different.

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  2. Yuk! As an avid hater (and chaser) of flies, I have avoided both this poem and Dickinson's in the past. Little beetles I don't mind, or spiders, etc. It is flies and mosquitoes that cause me to grind my teeth.

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    1. madamevauquer--I just tell myself it's a metaphorical fly, not a real one.

      The poem is an attention grabber.

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  3. Fred: tx for mentioning pov... one of the things the poem says, imo, is that there is no real difference in life span between the two: it's all in the eye of the beholder...

    well, i guess that's what you said, didn't you... sigh....

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    1. Mudpuddle--yes, that's what I think the poet is saying. But, that's the poet's POV. It isn't mine though. Is it yours?

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    2. Mudpuddle--I like a man who is short, concise, and to the point. (watched The Maltese Falcon recently and some of it is still with me).

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    3. haha... sometimes, tho, it just indicates a blank brain...

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    4. Mudpuddle--according to what little I've read about Eastern traditions, an empty mind is a sign of wisdom.

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    5. in some cases... i was thinking today when Mrs. M was at the monastery, that spiritual understanding must have been very different a thousand years ago, when life was so much simpler... technology has changed social ethos a lot...

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    6. Mudpuddle--yes technology has changed our environment considerably, but I doubt if it has changed human nature that much. We have more distractions today, but still those who can ignore them still are able to do so, or so it seems to me.

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    7. i agree, unless.... have you read any of alastair reynolds sci fi, about the Conjoiners and the deMarchists? they address the question over a series of novels about the tech vs. human nature question... i enjoyed most of them, but not all...

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    8. Mudpuddle--no, I haven't read anything by Alastair Reynolds. I shall add him to my Search List.

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    9. Mudpuddle, which of the following is the series you mentioned? Revelation Space (5 books) or Poseidon's Children (3 books)?

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    10. Revelation Space; i didn't know about the other series... tx...

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    11. And there is this by A.R.
      http://bookloons.com/cgi-bin/Review.asp?bookid=6309

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  4. I don't willingly let flies drink from my cup, but my parrot on the hand...

    I suppose he's comparing the flies life span to ours. Once we have passed most of our life it does seem as short as a flies. Twenty years ago seems like yesterday.

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    1. Sharon--parrots are different than flies, I guess. Perhaps he's talking about the tasks of a fly and a human. A fly's task, maybe, can be accomplished in a summer. Ours takes a bit longer, but both are accomplished in a life span. If that makes any sense.

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  5. I also do not see too much negative in this poem. It seems to be exuberant about life.

    Can't metaphorical flies be metaphorically disgusting? :)

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    1. Brian--yes, it seems he's more concerned with living life as much as possible.

      I guess that, metaphorically speaking, metaphorical flies can be metaphorically disgusting.

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  6. I'm not going to share my drink with any fly.
    Haha.

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    1. Di--not even a metaphorical fly?

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    2. Not even a metaphorical fly.

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  7. Thanks for sharing this exuberant poem. It made me think of Donne's "The Flea".

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    1. James--you're right. I had forgotten Donne's lucky flea.

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    2. OOTD I may get around to Reynolds.

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